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Friday Research Forum: Learning to Facilitate Deliberation

The Center for Integrative Leadership kicked-off of the Friday Leadership Research Forum on Friday, September 28th at the relatively central Science Teaching and Student Services Building just east of the Washington Bridge. A group of thirty faculty, graduate students and community members from outside of the U gathered over lunch to discuss the research of Humphrey School faculty members Dr. Kathryn Quick and Dr. Jodi Sandfort.

Professor Sandfort and Quick presented a paper on how people develop the ability to facilitate 'conversations that matter'. Both the presenters argued that it is a complex ability, demanding both skill and nuanced judgment in the design and implementation of engagement efforts.

Through ethnographic study of growing community of individuals across the region trained in "The Art of Hosting and Harvesting Conversations that Matter," the authors identified three processes through which individuals transform knowledge to become seasoned practitioners capable of exercising practical judgment about how to situate and apply their practices.

Art of What??

The "hosting" terminology is new to many of us, even though we might be familiar with the other systems change approaches. You might remember when we first introduced Art of Hosting here on the blog or when we recapped the trainings we've been hosting for UMN faculty and staff.

"Art of Hosting" refers to a suite of engagement patterns and practices designed to draw out the intelligence of diverse groups of stakeholders to make progress on shared challenges. It is based on the assumption that we humans have enormous untapped wisdom and resilience; and that sustainable solutions can be created when we share that wisdom with each other. According to this worldview, learning is a social activity, which co-creates knowledge and eventually wisdom.

The Question & The Findings

Sandfort and Quick asked, "How does this social learning theory work in practice? How are people learning to host?" In their analysis, they present three phases of knowledge transformation. They emphasize that learning to host happens through repeated practice; but it is processed through "metabolizing," "indigenizing," and "co-generating."

  • By practicing, the host acquires explicit and implicit forms of knowledge.

  • By metabolizing the host digests, transforms, absorbs, or discards that knowledge.

  • S/he then "indigenizes" the knowledge, adapting or modifying the practices to fit a particular context.

  • Co-generation involves active participation in a community of practitioners in which hosts acquire, test, and co-generate new and renewed facilitation practices.

The discussion extended over the lunch hour with talk of trainee "readiness" to talk of power dynamics. We hope that these discussions continue to reoccur in offices and classrooms and trainings around the University to expand our grasp of co-creation of knowledge and facilitation of more participatory conversations.

Join us this month!

The next Friday Leadership Research Forum will occur on October 29th, and will host Virajita, Senior Research Fellow in the Center for Sustainable Building Research (CSBR) and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the School of Architecture, College of Design (CDes), as she discusses her paper "Integrative Leadership meets Design Thinking: A Whole New Approach for Our Times." You can RSVP to attend here.

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